By John F. Harris and Shailagh Murray
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Although saying he has no plans to run for president in 2008, former vice president Al Gore has nonetheless left the door ever so slightly ajar. It's a good bet that door will swing open a good bit wider come next May.
That is when Gore is scheduled to publish his next book. With no fanfare, he signed a few weeks ago with Penguin Press to write "The Assault on Reason."
As described by editor Scott Moyers, the book is a meditation on how "the public arena has grown more hostile to reason," and how solving problems such as global warming is impeded by a political culture with a pervasive "unwillingness to let facts drive decisions."
While that may sound abstract, both the subject matter and the timing of the release have an unmistakable subtext. In 2004, Gore cheered liberals when he lashed at President Bush for allegedly falling captive to right-wing special interests and taking flight from "fact-based analysis." If the book strikes a chord, it will produce new momentum for Gore to make another bid for the White House, presumably fueled in large part by anti-Iraq-war Democrats.
As it happens, speculation about presidential ambitions and book tours have long enjoyed symbiotic relationships. In 1995, Colin L. Powell released his memoirs, "My American Story," in the midst of fevered expectations about his own presidential intentions. He ended up not running, but he did produce a runaway best-seller.
Gore is currently on the paperback best-seller lists with the companion book to his documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth."
"The Assault on Reason" is not the only book due next year that will be deconstructed for political implications. Pollster Mark Penn, a longtime strategist for both President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), not long ago signed his own book deal with editor Jon Karp of Warner Twelve. "Micro Trends," which analyzes American politics and business, will come out next Labor Day -- when Hillary Clinton's widely anticipated 2008 campaign would presumably be nearing a boil.Lamont Resumes Antiwar Tack
Ned Lamont had a bumpy month after beating Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary on Aug. 8. Hoping to broaden his appeal, he gave speeches on education, Hurricane Katrina and trade, but there were few signs that he was gaining traction.
So he went back to the issue that dominated his primary campaign: Lieberman's unyielding support for the Iraq war. As Lamont's strategists see it, the incumbent's pro-war stance remains his biggest vulnerability, especially among independent voters, who will determine the outcome of the election.
Last week, Lamont unveiled one of the toughest television ads of the election cycle, a spot called "Patriot." It features a young man standing in front of a memorial in Hartford, reading the names of U.S. service members who died in Iraq. As the names are called out, Lamont intones: "Why do we listen when George Bush and Joe Lieberman tell us they know how to fight terrorism? How have they made us safer? What have they been right about so far?"
Speaking at Yale University last week, Lamont denounced the war as a reckless distraction. "Senator Lieberman believes that we are "safer" than we were on 9/11," said Lamont. "He believes that President Bush 'has it right' in Iraq. He is dangerously wrong."
Lieberman, running as an independent to keep his seat, brushed off his opponent's attacks in a speech Friday at Fairfield University. Although he has stepped up his criticism of Bush in recent public comments, the senator also needled Democrats for politicizing the Iraq debate. "It is wrong for some on the left who go beyond dissent to demonize the president and impugn the motives of all those who support him," Lieberman said.
Accusations between the two camps are flying back and forth at a near-daily pace. Lamont was embarrassed last week when the Lieberman camp released a laudatory e-mail that the Greenwich businessman had sent to the senator after he had criticized President Bill Clinton on the Senate floor over the Monica S. Lewinsky affair. The Lieberman camp released the e-mail after Lamont tried to woo Clinton loyalists by denouncing the 1998 speech as out of line.
The Lamont campaign hit back this week with data detailing the senator's missed votes. And to capitalize on the weekend's big regional event -- the Yankees-Red Sox series at Yankee Stadium -- it released a new ad called "Turncoat," showing two fans at the game wearing their jackets inside out. "There's one thing we agree on," said the Red Sox fan. "Joe's gotta go." The ad is scheduled to run on local stations during the broadcast of the four games.